21.03.2013 - 24.03.2013
We awoke early this morning as we were getting off the ship in the Falklands. We had left most of the packing till the last minute due to the rough seas. The ship went through the narrow neck to the harbour and there was Stanley. It is such a pretty town. The houses sit on the hill and it is very colourful.
The ship was docked in the harbour so we were transported by zodiac to the port.
It was overcast when we disembarked. Arlette (the lady who I arranged our Falklands trip with) was there at the dock to meet us. So she took us off the Malvina House Hotel where we settled in. By then the sun had come out and the weather was absolutely beautiful so we headed off for our walk around town. We visited the Christ Church Cathedral. This is the most southerly Anglican Cathedral in the world and was consecrated in 1892. Right along side is the Whalebone Arch. This was constructed in 1933 to commemorate a centenary of British Administration in the Islands. The arch consists of the jawbones of two blue whales.
We then walked along Ross Road which is right on the waterfront. We passed Government House. The building originates from the 1840’s and has had extensions added over the years.
We passed the Jhelum shipwreck. The Jhelum was launched in England in 1849, suffered damage rounding Cape Horn and limped into Stanley.
We finished off at the West Store. This is the biggest shop on the island. You can buy groceries and souvenirs. So we bought a few things and headed back to the hotel for dinner. We had a lovely dinner, Shane tried Toothfish.
This morning we were picked up from our hotel by Derek. Derek and Trudi are wardens down at Volunteer Point where it is home to the largest king penguin colony in the Falklands. We are lucky enough to have the opportunity to stay with them in their home.
Volunteer Point was a three hour drive from Stanley. Two thirds is on a pretty good dirt road but the last part there was only a rough track through the peat. The scenery was lovely along the way. Parts were quite stark but the peat areas were lovely and green, however extremely boggy. We had never experienced peat before. Then we arrived at beautiful Volunteer Point. Once the couple of day trippers left we had the place to ourselves. We walked along the beach and watched Kings, Magallenics and Gentoos playing in the water and wandering the beach.
We then headed up to the rookery to see the King Penguins and their chicks. They were again at different ages. There were really newly born chicks and then really big fluffy brown chicks.
There were also lots of vultures trying to get something to eat and unfortunately they were tucking into quite a big chick.
There were also other various bird species.
This is a Crested Duck
This is a Dolphin Gull
It was a totally different experience from South Georgia. In South Georgia there was snow and here at Volunteer there was grass as well as sheep.
After dinner we had an amazing chat with Derek and Trudi. Derek has participated in a couple of Commonwealth Games in shooting representing the Falklands. He was also fighting the Argentinians when they arrived on the first evening of the conflict and is only one of about 30 people to have been awarded with a special medal. It was really interesting listening to them.
This morning we set our alarm for just before sunrise to ensure that we were up and about to see the sunrise and the penguins on the beach. As I said, we had the entire place to ourselves it was fantastic. It also happened to be beautiful morning weather wise.
We returned to the house for a cooked breakfast where Shane tried a Gentoo penguin egg for breakfast. It covered the whole plate. Gentoos lay more than one egg and quite often the first egg is infertile so the warden collects a few at the beginning of the season for visitors to try. I wasn’t game thought. The egg white looked like jelly fish and he said the egg could taste fishy. Shane said it was good.
We then set out again to get one more fix of the King Penguin rookery. This time we were able to see penguins sitting on eggs and one baby that was really tiny. We had to drag ourselves away as Derek needed to drive us back to Stanley after lunch. It was another lovely drive back to Stanley where we once again settled into the Malvina House Hotel.
At 9am this morning a gentleman named Tony Smith came to pick us up. He was taking us out for the day for a battle tour and we had heard he was one of the best. In fact when the Duke of Kent was here he gave him a personal tour. After discussing it with him we decided that we would just do a general trip that took us to several spots which would give us an overview and a good picture of a lot to the conflict. The day was really overcast with quite a bit of wind and the odd drizzle. In a way this enhanced our experience as we could really feel for the soldiers on both sides. We first headed to an area just north of Mt Kent where there was wreckage of an Argentinian Chinook and Puma helicopter that had been shot down.
There are still around 20,000 land mines that were left behind by the Argentines. As this is a costly and timely program to remove them they have just fenced off several areas near Stanley. They are well sign posted.
We then headed towards Mt William and up to the top of Mt Tumbledown.
Tony gave us a really good picture of the three offensive manoeuvres that occurred in the area. On the night of 13 June – 14 June 1982, the British launched an assault on Mount Tumbledown, one of the highest points near the town of Stanley, and succeeded in driving Argentinian forces from the mountain.We took a walk to the top where there was a memorial to the Scots Guards who lost their lives there.
We then walked around the top of the hill where there are still remains of the old Argentinian field kitchens. They are slowly rusting away but are still in pretty good condition.
It was quite sheltered there so we stopped and ate our lunch where we had a lovely view of Stanley.
We then headed to Sapper Hill where there is a memorial to the Royal Engineers.
We then headed back into Stanley and followed the road out along the harbour to Wireless Ridge. The Battle of Wireless Ridge was an engagement which took place on the night of 13 June and 14 June 1982, between British and Argentine forces during the advance towards the Argentine-occupied capital of Stanley. Wireless Ridge was one of seven strategic hills within five miles of Stanley that had to be taken in order for the city to be approached. The attack was successful, and the entire Argentine force on the Islands surrendered later that day.There is still an old 105 recoilless gun sitting there and also the remnants of mortar pits.
You could tell that a lot of shells had been fired as there were big holes in the ground everywhere.
Our last stop was the other side of Stanley out near the airport. Tony wanted to show us the totem pole that was first started by the military during the conflict. We then drove over to the other side of the airport where he showed us a big hole in the ground that had occurred as a result of high altitude bombings by the Vulcans. The first surprise attack on the islands, on 30 April-1 May was aimed at the main runway at Port Stanley Airport. The mission was called Black Buck One. Carrying twenty-one 1,000 lbs general purpose bombs, the bomber was to fly across the line of the runway at about 35 degrees. The bomb release system was timed to drop sequentially from 10,000 ft so that at least one bomb would land on the runway, and it did.
We returned to the hotel having had an extremely informative and interesting day. We certainly learned a lot about the Falklands Conflict.